Love Changes Everything
After explaining something to the fourth graders, one of the little girls who sits up front gives me a certain look and frequently asks, ‘but what if…..’. With Valentine’s Day close who would dare dispute the author of Genesis repeating the story of the creation of woman! Indeed it is worth repeating. ‘What if’ in creation Adam was inclined to a monastic, solitary life given to contemplation of the beauty of creation? What if he didn’t feel lonely at all? Would God the creator accept his free will for such an option? If so in our multiverse there would then be a planet full of happy animals who instinctively remember a unique creature who was among them at their beginning and who gave them all names and after many, many years died?
If we had no Eve then we could not have our Gospel.
Syro-Phoenicians were neighbors with the Jews in the region of Galilee. Jesus ‘wanted no one to recognize him; however he could not escape notice’. He goes into the house of an unmentioned friend. But living in close quarters no much goes unnoticed. We can picture of the woman who pursues Jesus, heavily dressed, head covered, veil. She is slightly and politely apologetic for bothering him. It is obvious he is there for quiet. She is a woman compassionately thought of by the neighbors because of the little girl with the problem. Or as her mother pointedly says, ‘She’s possessed by a demon!’ Being desperate keeps this woman on the edge! She isn’t relaxed enough to sit and laugh in the mornings with the other women. She lives with anxiety for her child’s future. Her behavior is altered by the circumstance of a possessed child in the family, the house is less welcoming, visitors rare, shouting is frequently heard and the property not so well kept up. Her keen mind and pleasing wit go unshared with the neighbors.
This desperate woman invades Jesus quiet. ‘What if’ he can help my daughter? She doesn’t get too far with her request; Jesus doesn’t jump to her aid as she imagined. This daughter of Eve is up to the challenge. Driven by the love of her daughter she doesn’t think, ‘I am breaking a ton of rules, begging is hard even if appropriate in this situation’. Those thoughts are just quiet notes underneath the strong melody of her love.
The previous two stories in the gospel showed Jesus contented with Pharisees and experts in the law. Tough work. He told the apostles that God’s word of love is more important than clinging to traditions. Perhaps it was to recover from these debates that Jesus has sought quiet refuge? And now he is confronted by love that challenges him to step out of the tradition that keeps the foreigners from sharing the banquet he has come to serve. He must think she is a ‘what if’ woman, he laughs at her wit. Jesus knows she is telling him what he teaches the apostles. Then the most beautiful detail from Mark; she was quick, Jesus quicker: ‘The demon has already left your daughter, be off now’.
Remember the gospel when you hear the Valentine’s Day song, Love Changes Everything: ‘Love will turn your world around and that world will last forever…Love bursts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears. Love makes fools of everyone all the rules we made are broken, Yes love, changes everyone.’ Jesus relaxed.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.